It’s 8:34 a.m. and I awaken to the pitter patter of rain on my window. “Guess it’s time to put those rain pants to good use,” I think. They’re nothing special—just a kid’s large from Amazon that provide the same fit and utility I’d get from an adult small, but for $10 less. I get out of bed, get dressed, put on my rain jacket over my sweater and pull my rain pants over my leggings. I bike to Thorne for breakfast and arrive with legs dryer than the Mojave desert. “Wow, good thing I invested in these rain pants,” I think. “Now I don’t have to go through my entire day soaked and uncomfortable.”
Little do I know, I’m in for a storm far worse than that of rain—insults from my friends and acquaintances pour down on me all day long.
“Oh my god, are you seriously wearing rain pants?” asks Johna.
“Amanda, you WOULD own rain pants,” says Nell.
“Are those rain pants???” asks a judgmental stranger.
“Rain pants are the kind of thing that’s on a packing list for summer camp, but only the worst kids actually bring them,” articulates Calder McHugh, editor-in-chief of the Bowdoin Orient.
And the list keeps going.
One day in October of my first year, it poured so hard I went through two pairs of shoes before lunchtime. I remember deeming it my first bad day at Bowdoin as I attempted to walk from Osher to Moulton. The rain was coming down so hard it flooded College Street, covering the curb and forcing me to step into a stream of water that went up to my knees. I still remember the smushing sound my soaking wet hiking boots made with each step as I schlepped over to Searles for Microeconomics (I needed my MCSR). Squelch, squelch, squelch. Disgusting.
My toes were wrinkly by the end of the day, and my legs were damp and dirty. I refused to let it happen again. It was time to invest in some rain boots, and a pair of water-repellant pants was an obvious supplement. I haven’t seen it rain as hard here since that day, but I’ll be darned if I’ll ever again risk soaking my clothes when it could easily be prevented.
Sure, maybe they’re a little goofy. Maybe they make a swishy-swashy sound when I walk. And maybe people stare as I go through the five-minute routine of taking off my boots, pulling down my rain pants and then replacing my boots to enter a dining hall or academic building with crispy dry legs. Would you rather I start my day uncomfortably soggy after the long trek to campus from Harpswell Apartments? I wouldn’t. And if you’re my friend, you shouldn’t either. Plus, if you’ve ever had to bike in the rain without a plastic bag to cover your seat, you know that unpleasant feeling of sitting on a wet seat and then having to walk around with an embarrassing water stain on your crotch. Or maybe you know that feeling for other reasons; I don’t judge. And neither should you, especially not when it comes to rain pants. Wearing rain pants only makes life better and much, much dryer.
I’m no fashion queen, but I do care about my appearance. That being said, I feel there’s a time and place to favor practicality over looks. I’ll also add that rain pants provide great protection from the wind, which is especially important when I reach blisteringly high speeds on my bike in the chilly early mornings. I’m not telling you to go buy rain pants (though I highly recommend that you do). All I’m saying is that I feel it’s wrong to criticize somebody for taking steps to ensure their outerwear stays dry—no matter the toll it takes on their look. When you get a car wash, do you leave all the windows down instead of keeping them up, soaking your upholstery? Of course not! This is basically the same thing, but my legs are the upholstery.
You don’t have to wear rain pants (although I think you should). All I ask is that when you see somebody (me) wearing them, don’t make them (me) feel bad about it. Just let them (me) live!
Amanda Newman is a member of the Class of 2019.